Pictaculous: Finally a Useful Color Selector

I remember the artistic kids in school. The few who could take pencil, pen or paint and create beautiful images. They had an eye and talent for art. Although I loved art, every time I would attempt to draw something it came out like a scrawl or scribble. It was a sad state of affairs. My lack of artistic talent continued into my adult life, leaving a trail of clashing eyesores in its wake. Then the day came that I took up web development. It’s great to work on the functionality, but when all’s said and done what the user sees is the presentation. The place where colors and layout matter.

Leaving layout aside for the time being, selecting colors has always been a challenge for me. There are plenty of tools to help, including this really cool color sphere. There are also tools that allow you to enter one color and it will show you other compatible colors. At the end of the day however, you need to have some degree of artistic skill to have any success with these. That’s where Pictaculous comes in. It’s the color selector for those of us who have absolutely no artistic talent whatsoever.

The concept behind Picta is that you upload a photo and it will return the colors that match it. The general idea is that you will be placing the photo on a page and need to know what colors to frame it with. I’m going to let the Pictaculous group know that what they really created was a tool for the color inept. From now on when I’m trying to determine what colors to use for a website, I’ll find a picture I like, upload it to Picta, and it will show me my colors. Easy, and done.

For a trial run, I uploaded this picture of the San Francisco bay from Tiburon.

View of San Francisco Bay from Tiburon

I uploaded it to Pictaculous and it immediately returned a palette of colors.

Pictaculous Pallette

The main palette is on the top. On the bottom left and right are various palette suggestions from Adobe’s Kuler and Colour Lovers, respectively.

There are a few options for saving your prized colors. The whole palette can be emailed, or you can download an Adobe swatch file. This file appears to be a special doodad that can be uploaded into Adobe products and will set your colors to the proper hex values. I didn’t immediately find a use for it with Gimp and as such, will most likely stick to the email option.

Selecting colors from the Kuler or Colour Lover’s palettes was a bit more challenging. It took you to a different website and it wasn’t immediately obvious what the hex colors were. In particular with Adobe’s Kuler, the values don’t appear there at all. I think you have to sign up in order to get them. In situations like these I’m apt to use my trusty color picker. For those who want a good color picker my favorite is a simple standalone executable cleverly named, Color Picker. A fancier tool is Color Pix. It has a zoom freeze option which makes it easy to pick out single pixels.

The other feature of Pictaculous is the ability to email pictures from your phone and create a palette that way. It’s a nice feature to round out a quality product offering, though it seems unlikely to be used often. If I could negotiate one wish list feature it would be the ability to have a unique URl assigned to my color palette. That way I can return to it without having to dig up the colors from my email. As it is, Pictaculous maintains the same pretty URL throughout the entire session.

All in all this is a great site that I’m predicting will single handedly resolve my color picking woes.